We’re approaching the May midpoint and Amazon Prime continues to add movies and TV shows covering enough topics to keep viewers entertained as they search for something to help serve up that most important of experiences… escapism.
Whether you come across something brand new, something that you’ve heard of but never got around to seeing or just a favourite that holds no new surprises but guarantees the welcoming familiarity of an old friend chatting about the same repeated ’Remember when … ‘ stories over a few beers, Amazon’s May parade of content should provide engagement of one sort or another.
This month sees the addition of a trinity of notable movie trilogies with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, the original Jurassic Park threesome and George Clooney and pals larging it up in the Ocean’s triumvirate.
Here’s a look at what Amazon Prime Video UK has on offer this month.
Pick of the Shows
Upload (Amazon Original Series new from 1st May
A high concept sci-fi satirical series from Greg Daniels, the co-creator of the U.S. version of The Office and Parks and Recreation.
When Nathan is involved in a fatal car crash he gets the opportunity to choose a digital afterlife before he shuffles off. The series follows Nathan as he explores his new world with the help of a customer service ‘agent/angel’, Nora and begins to suspect there may have been more to his accident than he first thought.
WIth plenty of scope to explore real world issues such as our reliance with technology, workers’ rights and society’s inequalities, there’s a decent amount of serious meat on the comedy bones and with the accident mystery as a driving force for the narrative it takes a while to find its tone. However, Upload has already been renewed for a second season, so there’ll be plenty more to explore in Nathan’s digital afterlife.
Grey’s Anatomy S1-15 (from 1st May)
Season 16 of the medical drama is currently airing on Sky Witness and NOW TV in the UK, and it will eventually make the switch over to Prime Video in the fullness of time. Until then though, season 15 has just made the recent move from paid box set to free as part of Prime’s membership, so S1-15 of ABC’s longest running prime-time drama are all available for binging before the latest hits. And there’ll be more to come as the show has been renewed up to season 17.
Outlander S5 (Ep12, finale, from 11th May)
This popular historical drama based on Diana Gabaldon’s books of the same name has been airing episodes for its latest season on a weekly basis and the season 5 finale has just landed. They’re all there now (along with S1-4) if you fancy an epic journey through the Jacobite risings and beyond.
The Last Narc (Amazon Original Documentary series from 15th May)
If you were a fan of Narcos over on Netflix, you might want to turn your attention to Prime this month, where this new documentary shines a light on the shocking true events that inspired that series.
Former cartel insiders divulge the terrible details behind the kidnap and murder of DEA Agent Camarena. Told over 4 parts, never before seen interviews tell the whole story behind the drug cartel Camarena infiltrated and the narc who risked everything to uncover the truth.
Agents of Shield S1-6 (from 18th May)
If you haven’t got around to subscribing to Disney+ but still want to catch up on Marvel’s longest running small screen outing, Agents of Shield, you can treat yourself to Seasons 1-6 as they’re also currently on Prime Video. More interconnected to the full-on MCU than the Netflix Defenders series, it still maintains a respectful distance as it throws around Hydra, Life Model Decoys, the Kree and even time travel as its plot drivers.
Agents is plenty of fun and a final seventh season is planned, so get up to speed here.
Little Fires Everywhere (Amazon Exclusive new from 22nd May)
Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington combine their producing and acting talents to spearhead this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Celeste Ng which follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores how secrets carry their own weight and how following the rules won’t necessarily avert disaster.
Homecoming S2 (from 22nd May)
The critically-acclaimed series Homecoming returns without Julia Roberts for its second season but with new twists and an exciting new star, Janelle Monáe, whose character wakes in a rowboat adrift on a lake, with no memory of how she got there — or even who she is. Her ensuing search for identity will lead her into the heart of the Geist Group, the unconventional wellness company behind the Homecoming Initiative.
Pick of the Movies
The Lord of The Rings Trilogy (from 1st May)
In sleepy Hobbiton, Gandalf the Grey arrives to sweep gentle Frodo Baggins up in an epic adventure that will see the fate of Middle Earth hang in the balance.
The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King all come to Amazon Prime, though unfortunately not in their superior, extended cuts. Still, the theatrical versions are essential viewing nonetheless and Peter Jackson’s painstaking and loving adaptation of Tolkien’s trilogy begat a cinematic experience that beguiled audiences almost twenty years ago and will do so again on streaming.
Goodfellas (1990) from 1st May
Presented in a ‘Remastered Special Edition’ Martin Scosese’s masterwork is the sort of film that, after 5 seconds, you simply cannot look away from, such is the raw intensity captured in the performances, dialogue and direction.
The true-life tale of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liota in his breakout role) a low level thug who ascends through the ranks of the wise guys he is fascinated by before the violence and paranoia of the world they occupy wreak their toll.
If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a chance to acquaint yourself with one of cinema’s most widely lauded achievements. From bravura tracking shots to the skin crawling ‘Funny How? scene to the stunning use of music and a narration track that actually works, thanks to Liota's droll delivery, do yourself and favour and become a made-man.
Ready Player One (2018) from 1st May
When the genius creator of a virtual reality playground called the OASIS dies, he makes a posthumous challenge to all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune and control of his world. Confined within the shanty town-like Stacks, Wade Watts accepts the challenge and meets up with the mysterious Artemis.
Playing out like the challenges in the levels of a video game, Steven Spielberg brings plenty of wow factor to the set pieces and the visual effects are a treat. Repeated viewings will help eagle eyed viewers keep track of the sheer number of classic pop culture references littering the VR landscape.
The Final Countdown (1980) from 1st May
A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, on the eve before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Rescuing a senator from attack, the crew have now become embroiled in the events of the past. Will their actions prevent the event that brought America into the second world war or will it create a catastrophic time paradox for the crew’s future?
Kirk Douglas as the USS Nimitz captain and Martin Sheen as a civilian consultant caught up in action have a ball with the ‘what if...’ premise and who doesn’t want to see modern US fighter jets dogfighting 1941 Japanese Zeros!
American Psycho (2000) from 04th May
A wealthy New York City investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies.
Christian Bale brings Brett Easton Ellis’s charismatic monster to life in a satirical skewering of the 80’s ‘me first’ yuppie lifestyle. The mask that Bateman wears to try and make his simulacrum of a human being fit in is just about good enough to allow him to pass freely through the empathy-vacuum of New York Stock Exchange culture even while his inner demons are screaming at him “this is not an exit.”
Remarkably, the film is laced with the blackest of humour and although it’s Bale’s show, the supporting cast features a host of upcoming stars of the time including Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Jared Leto and Reece Witherspoon.
Ocean’s Trilogy (Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen) from 7th May
George Cloony’s effortless cool leads the way through this trio of escapist caper movies from director Steven Soderbergh. The law of diminishing returns eventually kicks in as they are all essentially riffs on the same heist premise but watching Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and a huge host of other Hollywood A and B-listers (and Eddie Izzard) having such a good time is a pleasing way to pass a fews hours.
Actually, the first movie is that rare example of a remake being an improvement over the (Frank Sinatra) original and with none of the sequels to dilute its tension, the heist itself is a genuinely thrilling roller coaster ride.
My Spy from 8th May
A hardened CIA operative finds himself at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl, having been sent undercover to surveil her family.
Dave Bautista continues to show off his comedic sensibilities alongside his gruff tough-guy persona to great effect in this homage to Arnie’s Kindergarten Cop - also showing on Amazon Prime Video - which ramps up the knowing laughs with plenty of movie references.
Top Secret! From 10th May
Val Kilmer, in one of his best roles and showing a deft hand at comedy and music, plays singer Nick Rivers who gets embroiled in a plot to rescue a captured scientist while on a tour of East Germany.
Of all the movies on Prime this month, Top Secret! is an absolute must-see. A madcap mashup of 60s Elvis and WWII resistance genres, it blasts out verbal and visual gags into every part of the frame at an exhausting rate, and while not everything hits and some humour might even have aged somewhat, the joke workrate means you’ll soon be rewarded with something you’ll get a laugh from.
This will be the only film this month (year, decade, ever) where you’ll get to see an underwater Western saloon fight, a scene which plays out in a dream-like backwards sequence (well before Twin Peaks), a song dedicated to the sport of Skeet Surfing and a cow in Wellington boots.
Bad Neighbours (2014) from 09th May
After they are forced to live next to a fraternity house, a couple with a newborn baby do whatever they can to take them down.
Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne, representing where we all end up, take on Zac Efron and Dave Franco, who represent where we’d all like to stay, in this comedy with enough likeable moments (the ch-air bag gag) to give it a frothy pass.
Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (2006) from 15th May
After the death of his uncle, the 14-year-old schoolboy Alex Rider is forced by the Special Operations Division of the UK's secret intelligence service, MI6, into a mission which will save millions of lives.
Envisaged as a teenage 007 (licensed to pop zits and be socially awkward around girls), this failed to launch both the hoped for franchise and Alex Pettyfer’s career (I am Number Four and Magic Mike notwithstanding) but is entertaining enough and features a plentiful supply of recognisable British character actors.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) from 24th May
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in a search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.
Director George Miller upended expectations by making this as much about Charlize Theron’s Furiosa as about Tom Hardy’s ostensibly central Max but there are also a plethora of (relatively) interesting side characters and motivations fleshing out the narrative.
But let’s not kid ourselves, this is a chase movie, and one - lest we forget - where the protagonists reach their goal and decide to turn round and go back the way they came! None of that really matters as the plot plays second fiddle to a pantheon of audacious stunts, almost all of which are on the move, to deliver a film that reaches the top of many 'Best Action Movie' lists.
Passengers (2016) from 24th May
A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early, and one has a secret they daren’t tell the other
Pretty much a two hander carried by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this poses some interesting questions as the two castaways try and make the best of a seemingly precarious situation but never goes in a direction that would fully explore the various dilemmas examined here from each character's shifting vantage points even as the traditional Hollywood action/peril closes in on the third act.
Good enough to have you thinking about it afterwards though.
Richie Rich (1994) from 24th May
The richest kid in the world, Richie Rich, has everything he wants, except companionship. When his family is targeted by Rich Industries' top executive, Laurence Van Dough, Richie must take over control of the company while searching for his lost parents with the help of some new friends.
One of Macaulay Culkin’s final films before he lost that ‘adorable moppet’ sheen and Hollywood took a step back to let him grow up.
Sherlock Holmes (2009) from 30th May
Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis who appears to have returned from the grave and whose plot is a threat to all of England.
Coming out just before Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s modern day BBC adaptation, this proved the more fun take on the detective, though both Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch’s versions of the character kept the maddening genius core. Downey Jr.’s infuses his with more warmth which allows for the more natural banter between him and Jude Law’s John Watson compared to Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s brittle interplay.
There’s rousing action, plenty of laughs, a terrific score from Hans Zimmer and of course the whodunnit, howdunnit and whydunnit elements in place for Sherlock to untangle. Guy Ritchie’s film is fun from start to finish with the only flaw being Downey Jr.’s annoyingly whispered Brit accent.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) from 30th May
A year after their Lord Blackwood adventure, Dr. John Watson is about to marry and end his partnership with Sherlock Holmes. A disconsolate Sherlock occupies his time investigating the schemes of his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty. However, when Moriarty warns that he considers the Watsons a legitimate target for his retaliation against the detective, Holmes must save them and get John involved in one last case.
Although the film follows an original premise, it incorporates elements of Conan Doyle's short stories The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House and proved to be equally as well received by audiences and critics as the first outing two years earlier.
A third installment has its own Imdb entry with a Dec 2021 release date pencilled in so, pandemic aside and with Downey Jr. no longer on MCU duties, another banter filled adventure looks to be on the way.
Those are just the ones that stood out, there’s plenty more highlights to be found.
Best of the Rest: Shows
Clifford The Big Red Dog S2
The Last Ship: S5 - Final season of the series about the survivors of a global pandemic who must find a cure and save humanity - perhaps a little too on the nose at the moment?!
Outlander S5 Ep11 (episodes released weekly)
Jimmy O Yang: Good Deal - Silicon Valley comedian in his standup special debut.
Best of the Rest: Movies
Jurassic Park (1993, Action Sci-Fi - Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum)
Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997, Action Sci-Fi - Vince Vaughn, Jeff Goldblum)
Jurassic Park 3 (2001, Action Sci-Fi -Sam Neil, Tea Leoni)
The Lorax (2012 - Childrens, Animated - Danny DeVito, Ed Helms voices)
Best of Shaolin Kung Fu (1977, Martial Arts)
Who Saw Her Die? (1972, Suspense - George Lazenby)
Escape From Alcatraz (1979, Drama - Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan)
Friday The 13th Part III (1982, Horror)
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1982, Horror)
Green Dragon Inn (1977, Martial Arts)
House Of D (2005, Comedy, Drama - Robin Williams, David Duchovny, Anton Yelchin)
Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977, Childrens, Animation)
Shaolin Kung Fu Mystagouge (1977, Martial Arts, Action)
Snowden (2016, Suspens, True Life - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto, Dir. Oliver Stone)
The Impossible (2013, Drama, True Life - Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland)
Haywire (2012, Action, Suspence - Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Dir, Steven Soderbergh)
Delivery Man (2013, Comedy, Drama - Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt)
Furry Vengeance (2010, Childrens, Comedy - Brendan Fraser)
The Limey (1999, Action, Revenge - Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Dir Steven Soderbergh)
Killer Joe (2012, Drama, Suspence - Matthew McConaughey, Dir. William Friedkin)
Open Water (2004, Horro, Suspence)
Cell (2016 - Action, Horror, Suspence - Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack)
Fair Game (2010, Drama, Suspence - Noami Watts, Sean Penn)
Red Lights (2012, Drama, Sci-Fi, Suspence - Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy)
Brooklyn's Finest (2010, Drama, Suspence - Antoine Fuqua directs Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle)
Danny Collins (2015, Comedy, DramaAl Pacino, Annette Benning)
Season of the Witch (2011, Action, Fantasy - Nicolas Cage and Ron Pearlman)
Renegades (2018, Action, Thriller - Sullivan Stapleton, J.K. Simmons)
Limitless (2011, Sci-Fi, Suspence - Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel)
The Captive (2014, Drama, Suspence - Ryan Reynolds, Rosario Dawson)
Vacation (2015, Comedy - Ed Helms, Christina Applegate)
The Devil’s Advocate (1998, Drama, Suspence - Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino)
We are Monster (2015 Drama, True Life)
Lost in Translation (2003, Drama - Bill Murray, Scarlett Johannson)
Coherence (2015, Sci-fi)
Foxcatcher (2015, Drama, True-Life - Steve Carrel, Cnahhing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo)
Green Zone (2009, War - Matt Damon)
Journey to Le Mans (2017, Documentary)
A Dark Song (2016, Horror)
Personal Shopper (2017, Suspense - Kristen Stewart)
Suburra (2016, Action, Suspense)
We Were Soldiers (2002, War - Mel Gibson)
A Most Violent Year (2015, Action,Drama - Oscar Isaacs, Jessica Chastain)
Bridge to Terabithia (2007, Action Sci-Fi)
Wildling (2018, Horror - Liv Tyler, Brad Dourif)
30 Days of Night (2007, Horror, Vampire)
Freelancers: Mexico (2019 Documentary)
Mindhorn (2017, Comedy, Suspense)
The Hateful Eight (2015, Western, Suspence - Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell)
Loving Vincent: The Impossible Dream (2020, Documentary about cinema’s first painted film, Loving Vincent)
Kindergarten Cop (1990, Comedy - Arnold Schwarzeneggar)
Bad Samaritan (2018, Horror, Suspense - David Tennant)
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, Suspense - John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead)
GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009, Action, Sci-Fi - Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans)
Interview with the Vampire (1994, Drama, Horror - Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt)
Shooter (2007, Action - Mark Wahlberg)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2007, Childrens - Freddie Highmore, Seth Rogen)
Baby Mama (2008, Comedy, Romance - Amy Poehler, Tina Fey)
The Guilt Trip (2012, Comedy - Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand)
The Dictator (2012, Comedy - Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris)
Sleepy Hollow (1999, Horror, Suspense - Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci)
The Running Man (1987, Action, Sci-Fi - Arnold Scharzeneggar)
Killer Elite (2011, Action - Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro)
Unfortunately, to make room for these new shows and movies, Amazon Prime Video has had to shed some notable entries including Hacksaw Ridge, The Notebook, Logan Lucky , Geostorm and Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer which will now find itself in TV show format on rival SVOD Netflix from May 26th.
Has anything in particular grabbed your attention? Let everyone know what you are looking forward to (or maybe even what to avoid!) in the discussion thread.